News Roundup for April 15, 2019

April 15, 2019

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J Street in the News

Trumplomacy: Where are things at with the Mideast peace plan?, BBC
“The administration’s embrace of the Israeli government’s right-wing positions has alarmed liberal American Jewish organizations. ‘What they’ve done so far tells you what they intend to lay out,’ says Jeremy Ben-Ami of the J Street lobby group. ‘They have no intention to lay out what could conceivably resolve the conflict. Instead they will tie American government positions to those of the farthest right of Israel’s political spectrum.’”

Top News and Analysis

4 prominent pro-Israel Jewish House Democrats warn Israel not to annex West Bank, JTA
Four Jewish House Democrats known for their ties to AIPAC warned Israel not to annex West Bank territory days after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s election-eve pledge to do that. The statement by Reps. Eliot Engel and Nita Lowey, both D-N.Y., Ted Deutch, D-Fla. and Brad Schneider, D-Ill., did not name Netanyahu, but alluded to his pledge that he would extend Israeli law to Jewish settlements in the West Bank — even those in remote areas that would diminish the prospects of a contiguous Palestinian state. Netanyahu won Tuesday’s elections.

Trump peace package for Middle East likely to stop short of Palestinian statehood, Washington Post
President Trump’s proposal for a “deal of the century” to resolve the Arab-Israeli conflict promises practical improvements in the lives of Palestinians but is likely to stop short of ensuring a separate, fully sovereign Palestinian state, according to people familiar with the main elements of the effort.

Reform and Conservative movements join letter asking Trump to oppose Netanyahu bids to annex territory, JTA
Nine Jewish groups, including five associated with the Reform and Conservative movements, wrote to President Donald Trump asking him to preserve the two-state solution in the face of a pledge by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to annex West Bank territory. The letter is unusual, if not unprecedented, in mainstream Jewish groups pleading with a U.S. president to take steps to restrain an Israeli prime minister.


Criticizing Trump’s Mideast Policy, ex-European Leaders Warn EU Must Commit to 2-state Solution, Haaretz
Former prime ministers and foreign ministers from throughout Europe, some of whom also served in senior positions in the United Nations, NATO and the European Union, called Monday for the EU to reaffirm its support for the two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in advance of the publication of President Donald Trump’s peace plan. They say the EU should reject US peace plan if it does not include viable Palestinian state and adhere to international law – principles they say Trump administration is moving away from

Gantz warns next government will distance country from law and democracy, Times of Israel
Blue and White party leader Benny Gantz all-but ruled out sitting in a Netanyahu-led government, saying that the PM would likely put together a coalition aimed at safeguarding him from prosecution for corruption charges. “As I see it, Netanyahu is going to put together a coalition that will be busy with fortifying his legal position and in the end will distance Israel from law and democracy,” Gantz told Channel 12.

US acceptance of Netanyahu’s annexation talk will inflame region, The Jerusalem Post
The Trump administration’s acceptance of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s talk regarding his plans to annex portions of the West Bank will inflame the region, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s spokesman said on Sunday. “These statements will harm any international efforts to achieve peace,” Nabil Abu Abu Rudaineh said.

This is endangering lives. It has to stop’: Rep. Ilhan Omar says death threats spiked after Trump tweet, Washington Post
As President Trump has faced withering blowback over a Friday tweet that used video of the twin towers falling on 9/11 to launch a broadside against Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), many have argued that the visceral imagery could inspire more violence aimed at one of the first two Muslim women in Congress. “Since the President’s tweet Friday evening, I have experienced an increase in direct threats on my life — many directly referencing or replying to the President’s video,” Omar said in a statement, which noted that she now receives death threats daily that often reference her faith.

What US Jews Can Expect From the Next Netanyahu Government — and It’s Not Religious Pluralism, Haaretz
“On issues such as the Western Wall deal, Netanyahu has already made his position clear — that he’s not going to lose his government over something like this — and that won’t change. What else is pretty clear is that there’s no chance Reform and Conservative conversions in Israel will be recognized. In fact, now it’s even becoming doubtful that Modern Orthodox conversions will be recognized,” says Hiddush President Rabbi Uri Regev.

Trump said to warn PM security ties could suffer due to Israel-China relations, Times of Israel
US President Donald Trump last month reportedly warned Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that if Israel does not curb its ties with China, its security relationship with the United States could suffer. Similar messages have reportedly been relayed in recent months by top Trump administration officials, including National Security Adviser John Bolton and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

Jewish Settlers Filmed Attacking Palestinian Family; No Arrests Were Made, Haaretz
A group of Israeli settlers was documented Saturday hurling rocks at a Palestinian family in a West Bank village, but none of them were arrested. The Israeli army said the “friction” between Palestinians and Israelis ended when soldiers and border policemen dispersed the crowd.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas swears in new government, Al Jazeera
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has sworn in a new government led by a long-time ally from his Fatah party. Abbas, who heads the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah, occupied West Bank, accepted the oath of office on Saturday from the new cabinet headed by Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh. His appointment is opposed by Hamas, the Palestinian movement that governs the besieged Gaza Strip.

15-year-old Gazan Killed by Live Israeli Gunfire in Border Protests, Health Ministry Says, Haaretz
A 15-year-old Palestinian was killed Friday after being shot in the stomach by live Israeli gunfire during border protests along the border with Gaza, the health ministry in the Strip said. Eight more Palestinians reportedly sustained gunshot wounds in clashes east of Jabalya in the northern Gaza Strip.

Opinion and Analysis

Israel’s Election, Through the Eyes of a Young Palestinian, New York Times (Podcast)
The Daily reports: “Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel has promised to assert sovereignty over dozens of Jewish settlements on the West Bank. For Palestinians there, that could mean the end of a decades-long struggle for a state of their own. We hear the perspective of one young man living on the West Bank.”

The Trump-Netanyahu Alliance, The New Yorker
David Remnick writes, “Netanyahu’s paramount interest, though, is self-interest. He has not only extinguished any pretense of coming to a settlement with the Palestinians, he now entertains the idea of annexing the Jewish settlements on the West Bank. By at least speaking the language of annexation, he could try to win the enduring support of the racists and the absolutists in a potential right-wing coalition, who might, in turn, quash the multiple corruption indictments that he faces. The political discussion in Jerusalem was once about trading land for peace; Netanyahu might now seek to trade the rule of law for annexation.”

Meet the World’s Last, Best Hope to Prevent Israel’s Annexation of the West Bank, Haaretz
Abe Silberstein and Daniel Solomon write, “America’s no longer pretending to be an honest broker. The Arab world’s no longer pretending to care about the Palestinians. That leaves France’s Macron holding the whole future of the Middle East peace process in his hands.”

Europe must take a stand in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Financial Times
Gro Harlem Brundtland writes, “The calculations in Israel are clearly being affected by changes in US policy, most notably President Donald Trump’s declaration that he recognizes Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights — internationally recognized as occupied Syrian territory. But as Israel’s neighbor and main trading partner, as well as the main provider of aid to the Palestinian Authority, the EU can also influence Israel. “

Netanyahu was a cautious leader — until Trump came along, Washington Post
Jackson Diehl writes, “The crucial test of whether Netanyahu has changed will be whether he acts on his latest wild pre-election promise, which was for Israel to annex large portions of the West Bank. In an interview three days before the vote, he vowed to ‘apply sovereignty’ not just to the large Jewish settlement blocs near the border with Israel but also to the ; isolated settlement points’ deep inside the Palestinian territory. That would, in a stroke, virtually foreclose the possibility of a deal on Palestinian statehood, plunge Israel into conflict with most of the rest of the world and, ultimately, force it to choose between giving up its Jewish identity and becoming an apartheid state.”

The Israeli opposition failed. Here’s how it can redeem itself, +972 Mag
Dahlia Scheindlin writes, “Netanyahu’s natural opponents were already voting for parties on the center or left, which represent just over 40 percent of Israelis. Cannibalizing them helped no one. To be sure, it seems clear that some votes came from the right, too – Moshe Kachlon lost six seats, and overall the right-wing bloc lost two. But you knew what you really needed were moderate right-wingers who supported Netanyahu in the past, who were considering defecting, to weaken Likud.”

The Israeli Election: Triangulation Failed. Ignoring Minority Voters Was a Disaster, The American Prospect
Gershom Gorenberg writes, “The real question is how the Israeli opposition failed to swing the relatively small number of voters it needed from the pro-Netanyahu to the anti-Netanyahu column. For those living in other fragile democracies, looking forward with hope and dread to their next election, I’ll point to three possible lessons…”